Women in language movement

Women stood by the side of men as co-fighters in the movement to demand ‘Bangla as the national language’. Women were at the forefront of the language marches, defying the pointed guns of the Pakistan Army and police. There are proofs of this in photographs taken by Professor Rafiqul Islam, Amanul Haque and others, news published in Azad newspaper at that time, memoirs of language soldiers and documents and books.

The students of Dhaka University used to hide at night and draw posters with different slogans demanding language. On February 21, 1952, the women broke the police barricade by clashing with the police.

Dhaka Medical College students play a special role in treating the injured. Girls go door to door to collect donations for the medical aid of the injured. A police chase keeps students to themselves. Many housewives opened ornaments to run the cost of the movement.

Not only that, many women have also been jailed for being involved in the language movement. Someone lost their family. Some have been expelled from educational institutions.

From the beginning to the end of the language movement, women played an outstanding role. In August 1947, under the leadership of Professor Abul Kashem, ‘Tamuddin Majlis’ was formed to strengthen the demand for Bengali language. Abul Kashem’s wife Rahela, sister Rahima and Rahela’s brother’s wife Rokeya have cooked and fed the protesters at their Azimpur residence for a long time. Not only that, the police surrounded the house of Abul Kashem on the 23rd of Bayannar at 4 pm. Inside, Abul Kashem and Abdul Ghafoor and others are busy publishing Sainik, the spokesperson of the language movement. Mrs. Rahela Kashem had a long argument with the police against the police trying to enter the family home at night when the police repeatedly knocked on the door. On this occasion, Abul Kashem and others managed to escape by climbing the back wall. Then the police went inside and left without seeing anyone. At the beginning of the language movement, this contribution of women in Andaramahal played an important role in advancing the movement’s later programs. Because if Abul Kashem and others were arrested that night, the propaganda might have stopped.

On Thursday, January 31, 1948, in an all-party meeting at Dhaka’s Bar Library, Eden College student Mahbooba Khatun said on behalf of the women’s representatives, ‘Girls will shed their blood if necessary to accept the demand for Bengali as the state language.” It plays a special role in providing stimulation.

Later, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wrote in his autobiography about the events of 1948, “Hundreds of student activists started picketing Eden Building… and other places from the early hours of March 11.” … At 8 o’clock in the morning the students were violently lathi-charged in front of the post office. … Some students were also beaten up. … The East Pakistan Legislative Assembly was then in session. …Anwara Khatun and many protested strongly against the Muslim League Party (in the session).’

In his autobiography, Bangabandhu also wrote, ‘On the day we were in jail, at 10 in the morning the girls of the school (Muslim Girls’ School) would go up on the roof and start chanting, and finish at 4. The little girls were not tired at all. Various slogans such as ‘I want the national language Bangla’, ‘I want the release of the imprisoned brothers’, ‘Police oppression will not run’.

After that, women were present in all the programs after Jinnah’s declaration. Later, when Jinnah’s proclamation was repeated by Khwaja Nazimuddin on January 27, 2012, the students played a brave role in creating the main field of the Great Eight. Dhaka University and Eden College students collected money and wrote posters throughout the night to strengthen the movement.

On February 21, the main task of breaking the police barricade was done by Roshan Ara Bachchu and some other students. Because many of the first two groups of 10 people were arrested. Students jumped over and over the barricade. Later, the third group came out and started pulling the barricade. On that day many girl students were injured in police lathi charge and tear shells. Among them were Roshan Ara Bachchu, Sara Taifur, Borkha Shamsun, Sufia Ibrahim, Suraiya Dolly and Suraiya Hakim.

  On that day, Anwara Khatun, a member of the East Bengal Legislative Council, said in a protest speech, “Mr. Speaker, the girls were injured in the lathi charge of the police.” … The total number of girls injured is 8. The cabinet has created such an environment that even girls are being assaulted.’

Outside Dhaka, women were subjected to police torture while joining the language movement. Everyone knows about Mumtaz Begum of Narayanganj – her husband divorced her under the pressure of the government at one stage of imprisonment. The police also arrested teenagers like Mumtaz Begum’s students Ila Bakshi, Benu Dhar and Shabani.

Saleha Begum of Kulaura, Sylhet, when she was a class 10 student of Mymensingh Muslim Girls School, hoisted the black flag at school in memory of language martyrs. He was expelled from the school for three years on the orders of DC DK Pawar for this crime. Saleha Begum was no longer able to study.

Chattragam and Sylhet female students played a strong role in the movement. Among them, the participation of school-aged girls was the highest. The same picture is found in other parts of the country through different information and literature.

The biggest event in women’s participation in the language movement took place on 21 February 1955. On that day, 21 students of Dhaka University were arrested for violating Section 144. Among them are Laila Noor, Pratibha Mutsuddi, Roshan Ara Benu, Farida Bari, Jahrat Ara, Kamrun Nahar Laili, Hosne Ara, Farida Anwar and Talea Rahman are one of them.

At that time, female university students had to speak to men with the proctor’s permission and in front of the proctor. The women of the village were imprisoned behind the veil. At such a time, pushing the social, religious, institutional and state barriers, women came down on the streets to demand Bengali language – it was a big deal. Apart from the police barricade, the students did not have much of a barrier. Women have taken the biggest risk to participate in the movement.

A big step in the progress of Bengali women is to be involved in the language movement. These women are the brave partners of the initial stage of our liberation war – national heroes.

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